President’s Letter

children in class

Dear Colleagues,

At the Cowell Foundation, we invest in and learn from our grantees: nonprofit organizations and public schools that are grounded in place and serve together to strengthen their communities.  The important work our grantees undertake illustrates the power of relationships and the value of reciprocity; their stories tell of strength, tenacity and resilience. We think a lot about resilience at the Foundation because we make long-term investments in our grantees and their communities.  While achieving fairness and opportunity for all Californians is an urgent enterprise, we take a long view of progress.

I offer two examples. First, for more than 20 years the Foundation has invested in the Family Resource Center (FRC) movement, an effort that builds on families’ strengths to create vibrancy and opportunity in their communities. In 2000, we supported the publication of Vehicles for Change, a report that expressed principles and described emerging practices in a nascent field.

In April 2017, we were gratified to announce the release of Vehicles for Change, Volume II, a report that documents the field’s evolution and highlights its successes and challenges.  To fund Vehicles for Change, Cowell partnered with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) of the State of California.  We at Cowell believe collaboration between private funders and public actors offers an enduring path to long-term change.

Another noteworthy partnership emerged among five schools in one of our northern California neighborhoods of focus. Their story is summarized in an infographic which serves as a preview of a report that we commissioned from researchers at Stanford University. The full report will be published in early 2018. The graphic illustrates how, by forging learning relationships around common priorities for school improvement, the “Learning Collaborative” schools increased their students’ literacy achievement and inspired system-wide change in an urban school district.

Both the FRC movement and the Learning Collaborative illustrate our practice of long-term investment; more importantly, however, they demonstrate the value in learning with and sharing the hard-won wisdom of grantee leaders practicing in the field.

We are grateful to all our friends and colleagues in service, most particularly the grantees whose work gives us hope and inspiration.  They plant the seeds that will one day grow; our fortunate role is simply to help tend and water the shoots of progress.  Together, we invest in the promise of the future.





Ann Alpers
November 2017